As a self-employed business woman, I choose to surround myself with positive, motivated and inspiring people. So I started a networking group called 'Wonderful Women: Minding Our Own Business'.
I also interview inspirational and creative business women, and I have picked the brains of Lisa Freemont Street, Bernie Dexter, Angelique Houtkamp, Katie Halford (What Katie Did) , Tara Scott (Tara Starlet), Kat Williams (Rock N Roll Bride) and many more! They remind us that great things can happen!
Claire Bateman started Annabelle's Wigs nearly 4 years ago, and I don't think there are many burlesque performers who don't own one of Claire's wigs! I was lucky enough to be sent a 3/4 wig to play around with, and play around I did!
ReeRee Rockette: Can you tell us about the history of Annabelles Wigs? What did you do before? How did you start the journey?
Claire Pateman: Before I started Annabelle's Wigs I worked in London for a Law Firm dealing with Personal Injury Claims. I totally loved that job as everyday was different and I worked with some amazing people.
Before that I had always been in sales, again which I mostly loved, especially the last sales job I did selling commercial bins. Not very glamourous but it was fab driving all over the country and I got to meet people from all walks of life, and really everybody needed a bin!!
ReeRee: Have you always wanted to work for yourself?
Claire: I am lucky to come from a family where everbody has or had their own business. My Dad is one of six and all of his brothers have very successful busineses that they have started from scratch.So it was always in me to be my own boss one day. The fact that my Dad built his business from nothing gave me the confidence to try it for myself. I'm very lucky as my parents having now retired, are great people to help me with any issues that I have, especially with paperwork which is so not my strong point!!
ReeRee: What was the biggest challenge in starting your own business?
Claire: I think the biggest challenges were all in my own head. It's scary starting your own business, you have this idea which you think will work, but taking it out of your mind and into reality is a huge step. I used to spend my hour long commute to work in the morning everyday, fantasising about what could be, but when you have lived it in your head for so long, you dont know if the reality will live up to it. And there is always the thought that you might fail. Which was somthing I desperately did not want to happen. Having my daughter definitely helped, wanted to make a good life for her, and I wanted her to grow up to be proud of her strong Mum who made some her dreams into a reality.
ReeRee: What advice would you give to other women who want to run their own businesses?
1. Always do lots of reasearch before starting anything. You can never do too much.
2. Network, network network. I totally believe it's not what you know, it's who you know. Networking with the right people can do wonders for your business.
3. Always ask your customers what they would like to see you selling.They are the people who buy from you, therefore they are the best people to ask.
And lastly, I know its a bit silly, but be nice!! I always try to go everywhere with a smile on my face and be positive. If you are like that, people will respond to that I want to do business with you.
ReeRee: Have you made any mistakes along the way?
Claire: So far not too many huge mistakes! I have certainly had what I thought was an amazing idea for a wig in my head quite a few times and then when my factory made it up for me, its looked terrible. Then when I decided we were going to sell hair flowers and I bought 1000 of them, but in the end we never did, and they are still sitting in our spare bedroom gathering dust. Although, I think the best thing for them is to give one away with every new wig order, which is something we will be doing very soon.
ReeRee: What have been your most proud moments?
Claire: Definately a few proud moments. I used to have a lovely girl who used to come round to try on wigs. She was 21, lived in Brighton and had cancer. She was given the most horrible wig at the hospital to wear, somthing a granny would wear and it made her so depressed as she wanted to feel feminine again. It just made me feel so happy that she could come round to me and go away feeling really good about herself as suddenly she had long red hair again.
I have a new collection coming out at the end of September which is a collabaration with Annabelle's Wigs and uber celebrity stylist Lino Carbosiero, which I am totally proud of, and I also have designed an exclusive range coming out again at the end of September with a very large on-line retailer (I can't say who it is yet though yet!!)
ReeRee: What is your average day like?
Claire: I dont know if my average days are very exciting! My day starts off with my lovely children - mostly very early thanks to the little one! When they have been fed and have gone off to school and child minder, me and my husband start answering messages and packing wigs. The packing wigs bit can sometimes take all day, depending on how busy we are. I'm also constantly on and off facebook and twitter all day.
It's the non average days that are exciting for me. Like going on photoshoots or to meetings. I used to not do that so much, but now I try my best to be out of the office one day a week. I love being sociable so its great getting out there and meeting new people. It's mostly in the evenings when the kids have gone to bed that I start designing new pieces and doing my blog. If im totally honest, there isn't a day that goes by when wigs are not on my mind at some point!
ReeRee: When things get difficult how do you stay motivated and inspired?
Claire: It might sound funny, but it's very rare that I am not motivated, and if things get hard I am normally the person trying to see the bright side of it all. I am one of those people who is happy and contended 99% of the time, and the other 1% I'm asleep! I am always excited about one thing or another, that might annoy some people, and I'm lucky that my husband is very laid back so we compliment each other well. I'm always trying to get him excited and he is always chilling me out!
ReeRee: What do you hope the future will bring for Annabelle's Wigs?
Claire: I would love Annabelle's Wigs to get bigger and more well known, and I would love to get some help in so I can spend more time designing and less time packing.
Have you tried one of Claire's wigs? I'm certainly excited to see all of the new collectiosn she has planned.